By Tom Butala
According to the National Association of Realtors, international buyers accounted for approximately 32 percent of new and existing home sales last year in Miami.
Miami has long been an attractive destination in the international scene. However, the influence of strengthened foreign economies paired with the current U.S. recession has sparked a recent influx of second-homebuyers from South and Central American countries like Mexico, Venezuela and, according to Mayi de la Vega; principal of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, Brazil.
“Brazilians are flocking to Miami for a variety of reasons … their currency is strong right now so they have the ability to purchase in Miami,” says Ms. de la Vega, who has called Miami home since moving from Cuba as a child. “Over the last year, we have had a significant increase in the amount of Brazilians that are coming to Miami.”
ONE Sotheby’s International Realty is a leading real estate firm in the South Florida area. The firm represents homes averaging $3 million and above, featuring properties in exclusive neighborhoods like Gables Estates and Snapper Creek.
“ONE Sotheby’s has been concentrating on expanding our international network in order to benefit from the international influx,” Ms. de la Vega reports. “Through other worldwide Sotheby’s affiliates, ONE Sotheby’s has the ability to promote their properties and listings to an extensive international client database.”
According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales in Florida peaked at around 500,000 units in 2005 and have declined to about 350,000 units in 2009. In the same year, approximately 35 percent of Realtors reported an increase in international business over the past five years.
With a growing presence of foreign interest in the shrinking Florida real estate market, ONE Sotheby’s International Realty and its strong international network have been able to capitalize on the international trend in 2010. The group has reported 35 percent growth in business so far this year compared to all of 2009.
“I think the influx of international buyers has a positive impact on our economy,” says Ms. de la Vega. “Not only do they buy residences, they also buy businesses, cars, go shopping and inject funds into the local economy… I definitely see the international trend growing.”
According to The Miami Herald, ties between South Florida and Brazil, South America’s largest national economy, reach beyond the world of real estate. Brazil is a world leader of sugar and citrus fruit exports and is the state of Florida’s No. 1 trade partner.
“For the fiscal year ending on September 30, trade between Miami and Brazil is expected to be at about 150,000 tons, which should put Brazil as the 12th most important trade partner,” Port of Miami Deputy Port Director Juan Kuryla told The Miami Herald last month.
Despite coming in at only number twelve among trade partners with Miami, congregations last month between city officials and delegates of Brazil’s Port of Santos, the largest in the country, hope to increase future trade between the Santos and Miami Ports.
To facilitate their growing share in the Miami area real estate market, ONE Sotheby’s recently announced the opening of four new offices in Florida: Fort Lauderdale, Coral Gables, Miami Beach and Key Biscayne.
Among ONE Sotheby’s trophy-sales this year are the penthouse of Marquis Residences, a $4.2 million transaction closed in partnership with Majestic Properties, as well as the $10.4 million Key Biscayne mansion at 510 S. Mashta Drive, the former residence of pop-megastar, Cher.